Today we have a special treat, two mini essays in one! The first is a summary of Minoan Crete and the second, a summary of Mycenaean Greece.
Was there ever a complex civilization on Crete? Some people argue that there was not but now quantifiable evidence proves them wrong. At the dig site of Knossos on Crete in 1899, ancient maps were uncovered presenting records of various shipments and trading documents. Although archaeologists have been able to interpret the meaning of the papers, the writing used—Linear A—remains undecipherable to this day. All across the island palaces were unearthed—seemingly built to house kings. Conversely, after some manual research, it turned out that the palaces were intended as religious centers, built to worship gods of nature. However there were indeed Kings who ruled over the ancient populace and practiced socialism, redistributing what some reaped to all equally.
Although uncivilized in some ways, the citizens of Crete were incredible artists. Eggshell thin pottery and curious frescoes depicting men leaping over bulls were found reaching from Crete all the way to Egypt, proving not only how desired their skill was but how frequently and far they traded.
The first impression of Crete is that of a peaceful land. Few weapons were found so it is assumed they were not warlike, but the first impression is a far cry from the truth. Piles of children’s bones were found in a temple and a young man’s skeleton was discovered tied to a stake. These poor people were seemingly sacrificed to prevent natural disasters.
At around 1425 B.C., Greeks from the mainland invaded and took over the culture of Crete. We know this because the recorded script abruptly changes to Linear B, an early form of ancient Greek unrelated to Linear A despite the similar name. With all of this evidence, how could anyone ever doubt the existence of a complex civilization on ancient Crete?
Mycenaean Greece flourished during the last phase of the Bronze Age, around 1600 BC. Surprisingly, these people formed the first advanced civilization on mainland Greece. Loosely united, Mycenae consisted of independent cities each governed by a king. Trading widely and absorbing traits from other lands helped to further their own culture. Because their army was so advanced, they perfected their weaponry and forged some of the oldest metal armor in the world, which was discovered at a dig site on mainland Greece. Although they worshiped many Gods, the Mycenaeans were not open in their religion and therefore built few temples or religious monuments. Unlike many other cultures of the time, these people buried their dead in singular graves, commonly including jewelry and other talismans to adorn their loved ones in the after-world. About 1100 BC, Mycenaean Greece dwindled to an end, making way for far more advanced civilizations to take its place in the coming centuries.